Mattei's Tavern

Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos was one of several Santa Barbara County businesses controlled by Charles Banks. It has been purchased by Brian Strange, who has plans to reopen the restaurant.

Daniel Dreifuss, File

One of the oldest wooden structures in the state and a Los Olivos icon, deemed a county historical landmark in 2010, has been sold after being closed for more than a year.

Mattei’s Tavern has been purchased by Brian Strange, and restaurateur Maili Halme has been chosen as the lessee and proprietor of the tavern’s restaurant, said Dave Salgado, a real estate broker with Santa Ynez Valley Real Estate Co., who represented the buyer.

“We are so excited that the property will have life breathed into it once again by someone with so much respect and passion for good food, excellent service, and the rich history behind the building,” said a statement from Santa Ynez Valley Real Estate Co.

Escrow closed Aug. 31 on the property, which consists of the restaurant building and eight bungalows totaling 16,600 square feet on 6.5 acres located on Railway Avenue adjacent to Highway 154.

The site also comes with approved entitlements to build a 67-room boutique resort hotel.

Built in 1886 as a stage coach stop by Swiss American Felix Mattei, the tavern provided an inn, a dining room and a bar for travelers making their way up and down California via San Marcos Pass.

Terroir Capital, a Santa Barbara investment firm specializing in hospitality and winery properties, purchased the tavern in 2009 with the intent of renovating the historic structures and developing a full-service wine country resort on the site.

Construction was scheduled to start in fall 2016.

But that September, the future of the site was left in limbo when Charles A. Banks IV, chief executive officer of Terroir Capital, was arrested on suspicion of wire fraud for allegedly duping a retired NBA star into investing millions of dollars in his projects.

Banks was sentenced to four years in prison June 28 after pleading guilty to a single federal count of wire fraud.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at


Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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